Q: How can I encourage my horse to drink?
A: The simplest way to encourage your horse to drink is to ensure that he has clean, fresh water at all times. Frequently cleaning and refilling buckets is essential to keep water fresh and palatable.
Other ways to up your horse’s water intake include soaking hay, adding water to his food and providing salt in the diet, either as a supplement or via a salt lick, as correct sodium balance is necessary for your horse to show an appropriate thirst response.
In situations where your horse really won’t drink, and is at risk of becoming dehydrated. you can try adding molasses syrup or apple juice to the water to encourage drinking, although these are both very high in sugar and should not be given regularly.
Another option is to put apples into the water bucket to encourage ‘apple bobbing’ and thus drinking, but be careful, as some horses will just make a mess with the water and not actually consume any of it.
If you are concerned that your horse is dehydrated or drinking less water than normal, call your vet, as dehydration can very quickly become life-threatening.
NOTE: If you do doctor one the water buckets with molasses syrup, apple juice or apples, you must always supply plain, fresh clean water in another bucket.